An infusion pump infuses fluids, medication or nutrients into a patient’s circulatory system. It is generally used intravenously, although subcutaneous, arterial and epidural infusions are occasionally used.
Infusion pumps can administer fluids in ways that would be impractically expensive or unreliable if performed manually by nursing staff. For example, they can administer as little as 0.1 mL per hour injections (too small for a drip), injections every minute, injections with repeated boluses requested by the patient, up to maximum number per hour (e.g. in patient-controlled analgesia), or fluids whose volumes vary by the time of day.
Because they can also produce quite high but controlled pressures, they can inject controlled amounts of fluids subcutaneously (beneath the skin), or epidurally (just within the surface of the central nervous system – a very popular local spinal anesthesia for childbirth).